Monday, December 19, 2005

Saturday Night at the Old Country Buffet - What a Freak Show!

So Saturday night we were going to do some late night holiday shopping and I thought that the Old Country Buffet would be a pleasant addition to the evening. I was in the mood for barbecue and in this area OCB's beef ribs was the closest I was going to get.

We got there about 7:30 and there was a short line that consisted of one large group who were paying separately. Ok, they got through quickly enough and we followed behind and paid at the register. This was still early enough for the "hostess" to seat you so we had to wait behind this large group while two hostesses decided where they were going to put this large group in the already crowded restaurant so that they could sit together. This took almost ten minutes and while one of the two hostesses could have attended to the groups of two and four that were waiting, both walked around looking for large tables. Behind us on the line was another couple and behind them was a family of four consisting of an English woman, and American man and their three American little girls. The English lady decided that everyone should go to the restroom and loudly announced this for all to hear - only she went; the girls stayed behind. We are all waiting behind the large group to be seated. At some point the couple behind us disappeared. They must have decided to seat themselves. The three little girls behind us kept whining that they wanted to eat. They were upset with the large group in front. The littlest of the three girls went off and headed for the nearest food bar -one of the food bars is adjacent to the line. Neither parent went after her. She got to the opposite end and started eating - with her fingers out of one of the fruit trays. A few comments from the parents to stop that went unheard and neither parent went to get her. Eventually she wandered back to where we were waiting. Then the father decided that the girls should eat bread while they are waiting on the line for a table and he went to the buffet bar and took pieces of bread, gave them to the girls - which they did not want. There was an approach to place to bread back on the server - by the father, but thankfully one of them - perhaps one of the little girls told him not to put it back now that he has handled it. (There will be a new rule coming about not taking food while waiting for your table.) I thought at that point that it might be a good idea to turn around back to the cashier, get our money back, and leave. But no, I waited for a table.

When one of the hostesses finally came back from seating the large group, my wife stepped up and told her that we were a party of two. Comments now came from the English lady - "Oh, I guess they think they are next." Well, since we came in two ahead of her, I guess we were, and would a table for two, seat five? We ignored the comments and said nothing. The hostess directed us into a side dining room and pointed to a table in the middle of many other tables - she did not walk us to it as there was little, if any, access. We took the table and managed to make our way to it The table for four had five chairs - one at an end. (Ah, perhaps this was meant for the English lady and her family?) Boxed in as we were there was nowhere to put that extra chair but where it sat. We put down our tickets and our coats and headed back out through the maze to get some soup. When we returned my wife asked where I was going to sit. Now that seemed odd as I had placed my coat over the back of a chair - and I had intended to sit there. Then I noticed that directly behind me - in the space of two chairs was this immensely fat woman. I looked behind my wife with the idea to push the table forward and there behind her was another huge fat woman. (A word to excessively fat people at buffets - if you need the cane to walk, you should not be eating at the buffet or at least not eating further than the salad bar.) We managed to move the table enough so that we both could sit. We ate our soup to the sounds of one of these fat ladies complaining about what people were bringing her to eat - they thought she should be eatting vegetables (wise), she thought she should be getting fried chicken. They were bringing it to her because she was too fat to walk to get it herself (SAD). (This may sound like a rip on fat people - believe me, I am not thin, and I know that some folks are fat and there is not much that can be done about it, but these ladies were a category all onto themselves - they were loud and annoying.) Here we were trapped at this table with little way to get out and I was more and more annoyed that I should not have come to the OCB for dinner this night. We got up to get our salad and made our way again through the maze.

I got to the salad bar and saw an empty table right on the aisle in the main dining room. There was no line and no one looked as if they were about to be seated there. I said to my wife to go get the coats and the ticket. She got the idea and headed for our table. I went right over to the table but as I got there two women were walking to the table and looked like they were going to sit down. Too late! With a grump, I went back to the table where my wife was picking up the coats and told her to leave them - we were still trapped.

We went back out to the salad bar and low and behold the table is empty again - no ticket, no coats. Aha! I sat my wife down and got the coats and ticket. Free! We were now at decent table and looked toward continuing the meal in comfort. But the strangeness of the evening was not over.

It was a restaurant full of people who went up to the buffet bar and stood and stared. Mesmerized, maybe? They did not take anything. They just stood holding an empty plate and stared. Zombies at the OCB?

All around there were plates with food taken, but not eaten and abandoned on the counters of the buffet bars . A hotdog on a bun with ketchup sat for almost an hour before someone took it away to dispose of it.

There was an infant that screemed so deeply that it could not be consoled. It did not want to eat. Nothing the large family that was passing it around could do would stop the screaming. One woman holding the baby suddenly got up and walked away from the table to the middle of the dining room and told the baby, "Now you have done it. We are going to have to leave!" As if this three month old really cared about staying.

All through dinner the English lady, the man and the three girls wandered around, eating while they stood at the buffet servers. A lot of people decided Saturday night that it was ok to stand at the buffet and eat. It was the thing to do!

One more - we are finishing dinner. There are two people who recently sat down behind us. I had a full view of the lady. The man brings her a plate full of brisket - (oh yes, they had barbecue brisket! That was a treat making the evening almost worth the effort. Remember I went because I had a taste for barbecue!) she cut off half of a slice of brisket and put the whole thing in her mouth. A moment later half of it came back out and hung there. Just like a circus seal with a fish in it's mouth, she chewed and chewed on the half still in her mouth and then slurped the rest up and in. She must have chewed for five minutes to get this down. But this was not just a chance occurrence. The next peice was cut and when in - and out the same way. It was time to leave.

We had thought Napkin Man was the oddest person that we had seen at the OCB. He was normal compared to many of these people. (By the way, he has disappeared, never to be heard from or seen.)

I hope that this is not a typical Saturday night at the OCB. Maybe it was the holiday shoppers out for a meal. I hope so!

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I found the part about the fat women to be hilarious. I am very large myself but the day I need a cane to walk or cannot physically make it to the buffet table on my own the buffet world will be dead to me.

Great blog!